This post on changing career was kindly written by Max of Weirdly Interesting. For full details of their blogs and other ways to connect with them please check below!
Like any year, 2005 had its ups and downs. Wedding crashers was a hit film, but then bird flu was bad if you happened to be a blue tit. For me, though, it was a particularly special year. Contrary to the predictions of a dozen of my teachers, I’d made it into dental school and was anticipating my new career.
For me, this seemed about as likely as Donald Trump becoming a US president. I certainly wasn’t known for the sort of intelligence that medical involvements required. And my people skills ranked somewhere between a first-time rehab attendee and an enraged elephant.
My First Career
I wasn’t being honest with myself. If I were, I’d admit that I am, first and foremost, a tech nerd. I loved everything about technology – developing it, hacking it, writing about it, or turning a vacuum cleaner into a rocket. I had no drive for anything medical, whether in the mouth or any other orifice. But we had been ordered to pick a university course, and I knew two things: the smart kids went for medicine, and that I wasn’t smart. So I’d need to pick the next best thing. Thus, after countless hours of tuition and dental work experience, I’d managed to convince not only my school that I was up to this, but (more bizarrely) myself too.
Five years, several thousand pounds of debt and the development of a fried chicken addiction later, I got my just desserts.
I was kicked out.
The move should have been a relief. If I was honest with myself, there wasn’t much about mouth-excavation that I enjoyed.
But at the time, I felt trapped at the epicentre of an eternal, all-encompassing free fall. For the first time in my life, I had no career, no direction and no one to guide me. Saturated with stress, my health took a dive. And this was 2010, so jobs were harder to come by than the newly released iPad. I finally hit rock bottom and had to let go of my beloved fried chicken.
Career: Take Two
After a couple of weeks moaning at the walls and having various counsellors offering me several trendy variants on deep breathing. I managed to yank myself together with a new-found purpose.
I had decided to retrain as a building surveyor.
My dad worked in property, and he recommended getting into it. And I figured, I might be able to use his connections to do so. Nervously entering the job market, I was met with two offers within a week.
And then, guess what? I got fired.
I had quickly developed boredom with building inspections. And I hated the high-level thinking that managing construction projects required. A person who craves abstract discussion about existence, high tech and computer science is never going to be satisfied by fixing a brick wall (much less by staring at it enough to count its defects). And the beer-soaked, football-inundated culture of a profession dominated by ex-builders was never going to welcome a philosophical nerd. There wasn’t a single part of the profession I liked, and my work had consequently tanked.
The Path to Freedom
Remember why I’d gone down these paths? Effectively, my dad told me to. Just like my school had told me to do dentistry.
Following the demands, models and moulds of others had caused fourteen years of upset, torment and unhappiness.
So, at the age of 31, I finally decided to do the impossible: find a career without anyone else’s approval except my own.
It was this that lead me to coding bootcamps.
I did a month of coding, learning something new every single day.
For the first time in my life, I’d found a practical, economically relevant skill that suited me. And as luck would have it, a data analysis opportunity came up a few weeks later. I threw myself into the development of a construction project comparison app. Trading natural light for eight hours of fluorescent glare. And the great outdoors of site visits for forty hours a week in front of a flatscreen. I’d traded people and relationships for lines and lines of endless computer code. And I absolutely loved it.
I still remember the interview. The guy didn’t doubt my ability to do the job. But as someone who didn’t find coding particularly fascinating himself, he wondered why I would want to.
The Lesson to Learn
We are all our own people. We have peculiar likes and dislikes, and they can benefit the entire world in the most incredible ways. How would we have reached the moon without Newton’s obsession over why apples don’t fall sideways? Had a high-ranking gentleman called Siddhattha Gotama not broken away from the Indian aristocracy to discover himself, what would have happened to Buddhism? Without Mary Anning’s scepticism over her Biblical teachings, and her relentless determination to defy her poor upbringing, who knows whether fossils would have ever been accepted as conclusive evidence of evolution?
It took me not one, but two complete career changes to believe in myself and find my niche.
And so I ask you, please, be honest with yourself. Don’t do what I did, just because it fits in with what someone else expects of you. You have amazing talents, even if you’re not sure what they are yet. No one else has the right to define success for you.
I frittered away fourteen years learning this.
But if my story helps you to find happiness, then I’d consider it time well spent.
For more on The Path to Finding Self Awareness read here.
For on How to Practice Self Compassion read here.
Max is a writer, programmer, amateur actor, very amateur drone builder and a blogger of just about anything he fancies. No stranger to wellbeing, he practices daily meditation to prevent life’s pressures from driving him sane. If there’s wackiness in the world, he’ll find it. And as long as Max is here, there will always be wackiness in the world. Read more of Max’s posts on their blog Weirdly Interesting and their Drone Racing blog QuadPunk as well as Twitter